Pocket Familiars

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Pocket Familiars is the Spring 2018 special challenge path, introduced on February 15, 2018. This path adds variant rules and restrictions to an ascension run. Its description in The Bureau of Reincarnation reads "Instead of fighting monsters, pit your team of familiars against theirs!"


  • No access to permanent skills.
    • You start only with class specific base skills.
  • No access to guilds:
    Nobody's fighting the old fashioned way anymore, so all of the guilds closed.
  • Trying to read skillbooks gives:
    You only read books about pocket familiars now.
  • Because the combat system has been replaced, there is no way to use combat skills and combat items.
  • You do not have an active familiar in the traditional sense. Therefore you can not benefit from normal familiar abilities and can not equip familiar equipment.
  • Access to Hobopolis is not permitted: "This doesn't seem like a place you can battle with your familiars."
  • Standard restrictions applied while Pocket Familiars was the current challenge path. Normally, Standard restrictions would have lifted after the path's first three months, but as of November 2023 they have not lifted. This is reportedly due to the fact that removing Standard would break parts of the path's mechanics, and TPTB have not yet decided how to handle it.
    • Interestingly enough, some of the monsters use non-Standard familiars while the path is under Standard restrictions. April Fools' Familiars are also used by some monsters.


  • Your adventure begins with Gotta Familiarize Yourself With 'Em All!
  • All combat is replaced with Pokéfam battles in which you pit a team of three familiars against the monster's familiars. See Pokéfam for details.
    • Except for FantasyRealm, by LyleCo. This is intentional and not a bug. In there you have to fight without any skills at all, make sure you equip a weapon and be strong enough to kill them with basic attacks.
  • The Cake-Shaped Arena is replaced by The Pokémporium, where you can earn pokédollars for leveling up familiars and purchase path-specific items.
  • Most of the boss fights are replaced with fights with Jerry Bradford, who will drop the boss' regular drops upon defeat. This includes BOTH the frat and hippy war bosses (only one of which can be encountered in a run, of course.) They do not drop the bonus drops for having the MCD at a certain level. (Baron von Ratsworth still does, but he retains his original identity.)
  • The specific boss fights affected are: Boss Bat, Goblin King, Bonerdagon, Groar, Protector Spectre, Lord Spookyraven, Dr. Awkward, The Man, The Big Wisniewski, Naughty Sorceress.
  • The Hippy/Frat Battlefield starts at image 21 on both sides, meaning that it is approximately (or likely exactly) halfway cleared. As a result, all side areas are accessible from the start, in both frat and hippy uniform. Two of them (Junkyard and Arena) are of course un-completable, due to the necessity of using combat items, which are not usable in this path.
  • Leaderboards are based on daycount and Pokéfam team levels rather than daycount and turncount.
  • In Normal ascensions, Ronin is infinite. This is due to the unusual nature of the leaderboards.
  • Tall Grass from the Pokéfam Guide to Capturing All of Them produces 51 different familiar hatchlings in this path. Of these familiars, 45 are exclusive to the Pokéfam path and do not appear in your terrarium outside the path. They do, however, appear in the terrarium seen by other players or from the "as other see you" version of your player page.
  • An Old Man, and therefore The Sea, is not available:
    That shack you saw on the main map was just a picture of a shack drawn on the ground.


Players form an active team of three familiars from their terrarium. In each fight, they battle three familiars from the monster's team. The player may switch out active familiars at any time outside of combat.

Player familiars start at level 1 with 1 power and 2 health, and gain 1 XP per combat victory (2 XP if the familiar has the "Smart" attribute). Familiars gain one level every 10 XP, up to the maximum level of 5. Leveling up increases the familiar's power or health by one point and at level 5 unlocks an Ultimate ability. This progression is determined by the familiar's type; for example a level 5 Stab Bat will always end up with 4 power, 2 health, and Ultimate: Violent Shred.

Enemy familiar levels appear to be determined by the monster's level or attack power.

Most combat effects and enchantments do not influence Pokéfam, with the exception of Monster Level. Every 12 ML adds 1 level of familiar to the monster's team, according to the Podcast of Loathing.

Combat notes

  • Start-of-combat actions do not occur. This primarily affects the Hidden City in Quest for the Holy MacGuffin, where dense liana are not cleared with a machete, pygmy shaman do not apply curses, and Bowls of Scorpions do not provide free escape from drunk pygmies.
  • End-of-combat actions such as item drops, meat drops, and quest actions occur normally.
  • Because all fights are Pokéfam battles, special monsters (such as Witchess and tower monsters) do not require the usual combat tactics.
  • Some optional bosses such as LT&T bosses can not be beaten in this path. While you can engage them in Pokéfam battle, a victory still counts as a defeat, with the message:
You might have beaten this monster's pocket familiars, but your victory is hollow in the face of its extraordinary power.


All familiars have two base combat moves and one Ultimate which is unlocked upon reaching level 5. Like its stats, a familiar's moves are determined by its type. A spading spreadsheet listing currently known familiar moves can be found here.

After using a move, a familiar becomes tired and can not act during the next round; they can only "Rest" which does nothing.

Some moves are restricted by positioning. Most melee moves can only be used by the front familiar. Ultimates can only be used by the familiar in the rear. Positioning is dynamic, so if two familiars on a team are knocked out, the remaining familiar counts as both frontmost and rearmost.

The enemy will reveal the move it intends to make, and it will always take place immediately after yours. Knowing this, it is possible to negate the enemy's attack by knocking out or weakening the specific familiar in question, improving your chances of winning.


Traits provide a passive bonus to familiars in battle. Some familiars start with a trait based on their type, and traits can be added by using nutritional supplements from The Pokémporium. Each familiar may gain only one trait from supplements.

Trait Supplement Description Notes
Armor Pokepills3.gif bronze This familiar will take 1 less damage from attacks (minimum of 1) Tough familiars (such as those made of rock, wood or bone) start with this trait.
Regenerating Pokepills5.gif ginseng This familiar heals 1 HP each round. Plant and mushroom based familiars start with this trait.
Smart Pokepills6.gif piracetam This familiar gains 2 XP per battle. Technological familiars start with this trait.
Spiked Pokepills4.gif ultracalcium This familiar will deal 1 damage back when attacked. Spiky and stinging familiars start with this trait.

Additionally, there are two supplements that increase a familiar's stats:

Supplement Description
Pokepills2.gif riboflavin Increase familiar HP by one.
Pokepills1.gif metandienone Increase familiar power by one.

You can only give one supplement to each familiar. Additionally, you cannot increase the power of an existing trait by giving the familiar the matching supplement.

Council Text

See The Council of Loathing/Pocket Familiars.


There are no regular familiar benefits such as extra Familiar Weight, and no previously permed skills in this path. Combats are won Pokemon-style, with familiar fights instead of the familiars providing passive boosts to certain aspects. Therefore, item drop boosts, +combat/-combat, and +ML are up to the player's own equipment which can either be pull-able in Normal, or acquired for Hardcore.

In particular, The Pokémporium sells caps that can be equipped to offer significant bonuses to help compensate for the aforementioned missing skills:

Item drop bonuses are probably the most difficult to secure, which likely makes the Team Avarice cap the biggest priority in most runs. Obtaining many important item drops will be tedious otherwise.


Make sure to acquire or buy in-standard familiar hatchlings and hatch them before starting this run. The familiars by availability is found on this page in order to help you obtain the hatchlings for this run: Familiars by availability. Some hatchlings can be bought in the Mall and others can be acquired in-run. There is no guild access in this path, so the Nemesis familiars for each class cannot be acquired in-run. Most familiars have overlapping abilities, so not every familiar is needed.

Astral Gear

The astral belt is always a solid choice. +ML increases the level of monster familiars. Combat is done by familiars and once they've leveled up, good familiar choices can generally win against monster familiars. The astral belt also helps speed up Oil Peak. The astral shirt might give extra player stats for leveling, but Torso Awaregness must be re-learned in run to equip it. The astral mask is always a choice to fall back on but without extra item drops and no additional familiar item drops, this may be more important for this path. Both the astral statuette and astral bracer give extra adventures which is nice, but the other benefits don't apply to this path. All other astral items have benefits that don't apply during this path, and thus not very useful.

Astral Consumables

If you can pull the mime army shotglass, you want astral pilsners. Consider what food you can generate from IoTMs you have in-run or what you can pull in normal if you want astral hot dogs instead. Cooking abilities are limited by skill restrictions. Therefore, food or booze that require skills of the appropriate class aren't available.

Moon Sign

It may be best to pick the Mongoose, Wallaby, or Vole moon signs to unlock the friendly version of Degrassi Knoll for the ease of building a meatcar, unlocking the Shore and unlocking the Island to get ready for the Mysterious Island Quest. If players ascend under a Moxie sign, such as the Wombat, the Blender, or the Packrat, you can choose to buy some passive skills from Fragnk, the Regnaissance Gnome.

Class Selection

Most classes are the same. Seal Clubbers can fight seals if they can pull seal blubber candles. Turtle Tamers can collect turtle familiars if they don't have them already. Turtle Tamers will also encounter Turtle Adventures for potion-like effects. Mysticality classes won't be able to cook advanced food and Moxie classes won't get to pickpocket.


Expect slower than usual quest progress. Most forms of disintegration, copying, free runaways, free insta-kills, and queue manipulation (olfaction and banishing) are unavailable because combat skills and items can not be used. With the loss of these abilities, combat frequency modifiers and +item gain even more relative importance. With no permanent skills, it can be especially difficult to obtain these enchantments in Hardcore without the aid of Items-of-the-Month.

There are still a few ways to fight monsters on demand: genie bottle wishes and using a Time-Spinner to Travel to a Recent Fight.

The Clan VIP Lounge key and Asdon Martin are both particularly helpful for addressing some these deficits (even if the latter's combat skills do not function in this path).

Disintegration is possible via Eight Days a Week Pill Keeper's Explodinall, as well as by pulling spooky jelly, as they cannot be acquired directly.

The combat system creates some problems for quests, primarily due to the lack of combat items.

  • On the Copperhead quest, you can't use cigarette lighters and bombs of unknown origins to speed up A Mob of Zeppelin Protesters, although other methods remain possible.
  • In the Palindome, you can not use a disposable instant camera to obtain a photograph of a dog. Instead, you must repeatedly fight Bob Racecar and/or Racecar Bob until one drops.
  • As mentioned above, due to start-of-combat events not firing, dense liana are not cleared with a machete, pygmy shaman do not apply curses, and Bowls of Scorpions do not provide free escape from drunk pygmies. Consider using Cursed Punch to get Thrice-Cursed, or obtain the effect from the noncombat, although that will likely take longer.
  • The Hippy/Frat Battlefield starts at image 21 on both sides, and all side areas are accessible from the start. This is helpful, because the Arena and Junkyard side quests are impossible. McMillicancuddy's ducks will take approximately 40 turns, because the chaos butterfly shortcut is unavailable. Therefore, the ducks are not worth doing if you can do each of the remaining three side quests more quickly.
  • However, if you have access to an area that has regular combat even in Pokéfam, like FantasyRealm or PirateRealm, the chaos butterfly shortcut can still be used.

You need all six tower keys but do not need the wand. Tower monsters are Pokéfam battles, so there's no need for the beehive vs Wall of skin, the electric boning knife (or tower-kill) vs Wall of bones and no need for healing items vs your Shadow. If you want to defeat the Wall of meat in one combat, you still need enough meat drop.


  • Finishing a Pocket Familiars run that began while it was still the current special challenge path -- that is, between February 15th, 2018, and May 15th, 2018 -- gives players 100 (in Hardcore) or 50 (in Normal) extra karma points the next time they visit Valhalla.
  • Each run earns bonus pokédollars for the start of the next run, +5 for each Normal run, +10 for each Hardcore run. Start of run bonus is capped at +50.
  • Players will receive a Thwaitgold metabug statuette each time they complete a run.
  • Players in Hardcore gain the stainless steel equipment for their class.


  • For the first few hours after release, the description read "Pokemon themed.".
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